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Motorola sues to block former exec who went to Nokia

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Motorola is seeking a restraining order against a former top handset executive to block him from divulging confidential information to  rival Nokia.

Motorola is trying to prevent David Hartsfield from becoming vice president of Nokia's global CDMA business. The company filed an emergency motion last week in Cook County Circuit Court in Illinois; the case has since been moved to a U.S. District Court. Hartsfield resigned from Motorola Dec. 2 after spending a decade at the company. Before he resigned, Hartsfield was responsible for CDMA handset development, including for devices such as the Droid for Verizon Wireless.

In its filing, Motorola said Hartsfield had "access to Motorola's most competitively sensitive information," and that his new job with Nokia "inevitably will require him to use and/or disclose Motorola's trade secret information."

"Hartsfield cannot erase his knowledge of Motorola's confidential information," the lawsuit said. "In working on Nokia's CDMA mobile devices, Hartsfield could not compartmentalize his knowledge to prevent himself from using Motorola's confidential information."

In a response, Hartsfield's attorney said Motorola's request was "grossly inadequate," and noted that CDMA is an industry-wide standard, not "secret proprietary information." Additionally, the filing said Motorola has not asserted any wrongdoing by Hartsfield.

A Nokia spokeswoman told FierceWireless the company couldn't comment on the issue.

This is not the first time Motorola has sued former employees who went to work for rivals, such as Apple and Research In Motion. In 2008, Motorola sued a former executive, claiming he violated a two-year non-compete agreement by becoming the head of global iPhone sales for Apple; the case was dismissed last year.

For more:
- see this Crain's Chicago Business article
- see this Chicago Tribune article

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